During the July 23rd, 2020 Planning, Zoning, Annexation and Housing Committee of City Council, the Marietta-Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) proposed an increase in their allocation of the bed tax from 2% to 3%, equating to an additional $110,000 according to 2019 finance records.
This increase in bed tax funding would allow the CVB to form a strategic partnership with Marietta Main Street, a 501c3 charitable nonprofit dedicated to revitalization in downtown Marietta, and expand place and experience-based promotion of Marietta and the communities in Washington County. Funds would also be used to support the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority, focusing on economic development for Washington County.
Below you can find the remarks from Marietta Main Street Executive Director Cristie Thomas in support of the bed tax proposal in addition to the proposal itself.
Remarks from Main Street Director
My name is Cristie Thomas and I am the Executive Director of Marietta Main Street. I am in full support of this bed tax proposal for obvious reasons, as the organization I work for stands to benefit. However, I also support this proposal fully because of the benefits it will provide to the CVB, the Port Authority, Washington County, and the City of Marietta.
We work better when we work together and through collaboration, our City and County are made stronger. It is on this foundation that this bed tax proposal is a clear key to successful community and economic development moving forward. Arguably, it always has been – but finally, we’ve been able to realize this together in a meaningful, tangible way through this proposal.
For Marietta Main Street, we are focused solely on the revitalization of downtown Marietta. This revitalization takes many forms, both internal and external, and funds received from the CVB via this bed tax proposal would increase our capacity across the board by creating a second job within our organization. The employment of a second individual would then allow the Executive Director – myself – to invest more resources, including undivided attention, focus, and time – on initiatives like Enrich Marietta that requires a strong leader to manage priorities, identify funding opportunities, and provide consistent communication to the City, community, and stakeholders around the table.
A second employee would also equip me to dedicate more focus on our relationships with property owners, being a partner in the process to strengthen small businesses and maintain properties downtown, ensure data of the district is updated and accurate, increase our occupancy rate of street-level shops and on upper-floor development too. The list continues, and this list is the bread and butter of what Main Street is here to do.
Truthfully, Marietta Main Street has reached our limit as to what we can carry. We’ve exceeded it, in some ways, as I do my best to be my best version of a ping pong ball bouncing from one thing to the next. We are blessed to have a dedicated, passionate Board of Directors and seven committees of volunteers who actively contribute to our work. We’ve restructured our organization, redefined our expectations, and streamlined as much as possible yet still – we’ve reached the limit.
I truly believe that this limitation internally – of funding and of staffing – is reflected in the limitation of our downtown to achieve the next level of growth in community and economic development. A second employee of Marietta Main Street would directly correlate into the next level of growth for our downtown, and, further, our community as a whole.
The phrase “now more than ever” has been used repeatedly in reference to the needs at the surface in the face of COVID-19. But, despite the frequency of its usage, it remains true that now more than ever, after experiencing directly what life is like in Marietta when downtown businesses are closed, tourists are nowhere to be seen, events are canceled, and people aren’t out and about enjoying life in our community – that investing the resources that we do have into local development will surely reap the largest return. In some ways, this is the long game. But, the long game is what will catch up to us in the future when we reap the benefits of the decisions we make today to invest our money where our hearts are, and the heart of Marietta is absolutely our downtown.